Colorado Springs Area Gay Resource Directory
COLORADO SPRINGS AREA
Colorado Springs is the state’s second-largest city, but it’s first in the hearts of many visitors as a place of spectacular beauty with dozens of family attractions, natural landmarks and unique museums.
Although many towns and cities in Colorado were settled by miners and ranchers, Colorado Springs’ appeal was climate and culture.
Known as Little London in its early days, the city was founded by Gen. William J. Palmer in 1871. A Civil War hero and railroad magnate, Palmer influenced much of the state’s settlement, but Colorado Springs was his home. It had plenty of “civilized” attractions — opera houses, fine hotels and restaurants.
Things to See & Do Today
The city sits at the foot of one of America’s most famous landmarks, Pikes Peak, upon whose summit Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write “America the Beautiful.” Tourists still converge on the peak, where they can drive, ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway or even hike to its 14,115-foot summit.
The city thrives on culture, with its Colorado Springs Philharmonic and Pikes Peak Center for performing arts. But there’s much more to attract and hold visitors’ attention. There are more than 50 area attractions, ranging from the Pioneers Museum to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the American Numismatic Association Money Museum, nirvana for coin collectors.
One of the nation’s three U.S. Olympic Training Centers is located here, and visitors can watch world-class athletes in action. Another top attraction is the U.S. Air Force Academy, an elite military training academy just north of the city. You can visit several areas of the academy, including the Cadet Chapel and the Honor Court.
One of the nation’s most fabulous city parks, Garden of the Gods, is nestled in the foothills of Pikes Peak. The stunning red rock formations draw tourists with cameras in tow to capture a perfect shot of the rocks framing the snow-capped peak.
Located at the base of Pikes Peak, the historic mining town of Cripple Creek is surrounded by majestic mountains and breathtaking scenic views. The boom of Colorado’s Gold Rush put Cripple Creek on the map. More than 100 years ago, this mining community attracted thousands of gold-seekers in search of their fortunes, and you can still do that there today in the towns casinos and gaming halls.
The Cripple Creek Heritage Center and several museums’ artifacts tell the stories of those who risked it all in the search for riches. You can also tour the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine — named after the first woman to strike gold here — where you can walk the tunnels dug by turn-of-the-century miners. And the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad departs from an 1894 vintage depot, taking visitors through historic gold camps.
Today, those in search of modern fortunes can try their luck with slots, blackjack, poker, roulette and craps in more than a dozen casinos.
Numerous events and celebrations, including the famous Donkey Derby Days when members of the town’s resident donkey herd are cheered to the finish line, are held throughout the year and give the town a festive air. And there’s always a seat for theater lovers at the beautifully restored Butte Opera House, where musicals, melodramas and comedies take the stage throughout most of the year.
Tucked into the petticoats of Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs has been the quintessential tourist town since the 1870s, when visitors discovered the healing waters the Ute Indians had been drinking for years. Many of the town’s mineral springs still function today and the water is free.
Besides healing waters, the cool mountain air was thought to be good for tuberculosis sufferers. Today, visitors still come for their mental health, as well as physical.
It’s a laid-back kind of place where attitudes and clothes are casual, and the hottest thing going is Arcade Amusements, where you can still play pinball for a dime. Fun shops line the downtown main street and there are some great little restaurants. Look for locally made arts and crafts as you walk the town.
Lodging ranges from historic motels that served those first weary visitors to fully restored and grand, elegant buildings. Historic mansion, Miramont Castle, is a must-see.
Of course, the overshadowing attraction is Pikes Peak itself, and in Manitou you can catch the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which slowly winds its way up the mountain to the 14,000-foot summit.
It’s said the word Manitou means “great spirit,” and you’ll certainly find that here.